“There is no language in itself, nor are there any linguistic universals, only a throng of dialects, patois, viperslangs, and specialized languages. There is no ideal speaker-listener, any more than there is a homogeneous linguistic community. Language is, in Weinreich’s words, “an essentially heterogeneous reality.” There is no mother tongue, only a power takeover by a dominant language within political multiplicity. Language stabilizes around a parish, a bishopric, a capital. It forms a bulb. It evolves by subterranean stems and flows, along river valleys or train tracks; it spreads like a patch of oil.”
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
When we fetishize “long-form,” we are fetishizing the form and losing sight of its function. That’s how a story with a troubled woman who commits suicide at its center gets told as a writer’s quixotic quest to learn everything he can about the maker of a golf club that he stumbled across during a late-night Internet search for tips for his short game.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I don’t write as much as I used to, but I read more than ever before. There are a few points in here I take to heart: I don’t reblog/retweet links to pieces I haven’t taken the time to read in full.
“People forget that a book or codex is a technology,” reminded ambient lit artist Tan Lin in a 2012 interview in the new media art publication Rhizome (so named after Deleuze and Guattari’s “image of thought” concept). Literary types privilege the book as the ultimate form for reading. To privilege the book as reading, though—to forget that it is a technology—is analogous to forgetting one has a body (something lit types are also wont to do), and to forget one has a body is to let it soften and lay to waste. When you recognize the book as technology, you realize that print and screen, like body and mind, are not mutually exclusive mediums, but that they are increasingly mutually influencing.
…I wrote about the Internet & book design for Hazlitt: http://www.randomhouse.ca/hazlitt/feature/internet-killed-books-save-reading
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I first read it last week, and left a long-winded comment to that effect. I particularly think Iris and Anaïs would be intrigued…
THE BAUHAUS JUSTIFICATION
dear mom, the reason i write all of my emails in lowercase letters isn’t because i’m rebelling against the fact that you were a high school english teacher and i never even learned how to properly use commas; it’s not because, as i often feared was the case, i suffer from low self-esteem and don’t fully believe in the merits of anything i’m writing, or, more manipulatively, because i wish to appear non-threatening and meek so as to improve my communication chances with people who need always to feel they have the UPPERCASE upper hand, even in the benign course of a casual email greeting. it is not because i am lazy. it is not because i am trying, like certain poets and people from high school, to seem unique by appearing not to give a proper grammatical fuck. it is not because i spilled coffee on my SHIFT key. it is not because we no longer care about the same things. it is apparently because i am just so busy, so very, very busy.
I don’t write in all lowercaps anymore but did for years and this made me laugh out loud for all the (pretentious/self-recognition/right) reasons.
(Although to be honest much of it had to do with my affection for all things bell hooks after first reading her at 17 and partially with the aesthetics of it all)
Best of 2013
- An Hourglass Figure: On Photographer Francesca Woodman by Ariana Reines (April 4th, 2013)
- She Came to Riot by Jennifer Pan (September 25, 2013)
- James Salter’s A Sport and a Pastime by Sarah Nicole Prickett (May 29, 2013)
- George Zimmerman, Not Guilty: Blood on the Leaves by Jelani Cobb (July 13, 2013)
- The Violence of Organized Forgetting by Henry A. Giroux (July 22nd, 2013)
- Looking for Azealia’s Harlem Shake, Or How We Mistake the Politics of Obliteration for Appropriation by Nicholas Brady (March 7, 2013)
- The Courtesan Dies at the End by Tom Jokinen (October 9, 2013)
- The Disconnectionists by Nathan Jurgenson (November 13, 2013)
- Girl trouble: we care about young women as symbols, not as people by Laurie Penny (November 30, 2013)
- Boy Next Door by Stacey May Fowles (December, 2013)
This took me much longer than anticipated but better late than never is what I often tell myself. These are 10 of the best pieces I read this year. Visit my blog for a longer list.
Don’t forget, I tag all the articles I share here “recommended reading.”
“The fashion world is an industry that largely incorporates non-white people only as the labor to hem and stitch and toil and nothing else. Certain bodies belong and others do not. Anything that differs from this structure must be an affront to its natural order. In fashion, it is inherently “not good” and “not right” because it is different. It is not white.”
– For fashion, if it’s all white, it’s all right: Kanye West’s recent ‘fashion rants’ about the industry’s racism and classism are necessary by Britt Julious (November 4, 2013)
From Lorde to Macklemore, it’s a sentiment that’s galling for its popularity: white artists need to stop using the wealth signifiers of rap music to gesture at their self-important “anti-consumerism.” What Allen misses as she washes rims in a kitchen decorated only with bottles of champagne is that it’s not anti-consumerism when it only targets one type of consumer.
Rap owns a unique history soundtracking the triumph of financial success in a country that long barred black Americans from that success. It shouldn’t be an opportunity for white artists to wax superior. Beyond poor taste, it’s the myopia of latent racism that’s more anxious about gold chains on a rapper than an Armani tie on a hedge fund analyst.
Similarly, Lily Allen’s response to sexist industry demands for thinness becomes entirely ineffectual when it lashes out against women who succeed despite those demands. Allen is not savily critiquing the world of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Miley Cyrus, she’s resentfully bemoaning not getting to enjoy the same success.
“Hard Out Here” is the opposite of Mileywave. Instead of using black women as props to further her career, Allen blames them for its stagnation. In full-sleeved dresses Allen mocks her inability to twerk amidst women of color in body suits who launch into exaggerated dance moves, licking their hands and then rubbing their crotch. Her older white male manager tries to get to her to mimic them. Meanwhile she sings, “Don’t need to shake my ass for you/‘Cause I’ve got a brain.” Cut to black women shaking their ass, so much for sisterly solidarity.”
Lily Allen’s Anti Black Feminism by Ayesha A. Siddiqi (via alittlelateforalot)
If you only read one take-down of Lily Allen’s shitty new music video, make it this one.
Another great one is Hard Out Here for a White Feminist by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd.
“When I am lonely for boys it’s their bodies I miss. I study their hands lifting the cigarettes in the darkness of the movie theaters, the slope of a shoulder, the angle of a hip. Looking at them sideways, I examine them in different lights. My love for them is visual: that is the part of them I would like to possess. Don’t move, I think. Stay like that, let me have that.”
– Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye (via thefuryofovershoes)
The thing about an Edith Head design is that it sticks, battened to that part of my memory that equates a filmy gauzy dress to the MOVIES (!) — the same goosebumps I get from studio logos when the lights dim; the sound of Cary Grant’s voice — an irrepressible cadence that seemed to spring up at the end of a sentence.
This number from To Catch a Thief is by no means a favorite but one that I’ve remembered; that stands alone like a reference — blush pink like that pleated skirt and sleeveless shell in To Catch a Thief OR crisp white driving gloves like in To Catch a Thief.
That swirly shrimpy pattern, like falling apostrophes or fake lashes, or limp brushstrokes was near-distracting, almost too bright against Grace Kelly’s tanned, French Riviera arms, and yet, it also added a touch of play to her — saluting and sort of flattering her mischievous grin.
This dress was on display the Musée McCord in Montreal this year… standing in front of it, motionless in a glass case, hardly evoked any feeling whatsoever. But when I saw it moving on the screen, saw Grace wearing it, I remember why it merits words like the ones Durga writes.
Photos and a report from “Killjoy’s Kastle.”
Wish I could be in Toronto for this! Until Oct 30th.